I decided to make another quick trip to Cali to visit my birth family before leaving for the USA. My half brother's (Medardo's) birthday was a few weeks ago, my birth mother celebrated her birthday on the 28th, my niece (Daniela) is having her quinceañera (15th bday) on May 15th, and my birthday is on the 18th. I figured it'd be a nice present for all of us to be together. I had hoped to make the quinceañera, but I couldn't fit it into what will soon be a busy schedule. While I was nervous to meet back up with everyone, I wasn't nearly as shaken up as when I went to try to find my birth mom for the first time. The scary part is pretty much over; I was just worried about not being able to communicate well, but there was no problem with that as my Spanish has continually improved. I was also worried that I wouldn't get along with my sister. She had seemed nice on the phone, but I was scared of how she might view me.
I feel silly now for all the fear I had. While those feelings are definitely justified, I could definitely feel the similarities we had in our personality. Hanging out with the 2 brothers I had already met (Medardo and Jorge) and my sister (Consuelo) felt so comfortable. They're hilarious, passionate, and super nice, qualities that I hope people see in me. I had a smile on my face the entire time I was there. I can't speak to generally because perhaps my case is rare, but it seems to me that while there are quite a few cultural differences between us, our core personality traits are, in fact, very similar.
I've always wondered about nature versus nurture and how someone's personality traits are shaped throughout their life. I think I may be an example of how it's not one or the other that shapes a person's personality- it's a mixture of both. One thing that nurture definitely played a part in is my height. As you'll see in forthcoming pictures, I tower over my family. I accredit that to vitamins, having the 'luxury' of a daily dosage of calcium and eating healthy fruits and vegetables.
It would be interesting to read more on the subject of adopted siblings and how they compare in terms of personality traits. I would love to know just how much weight is placed on how one is raised in comparison to their genetic composition. I know I would have grown up in an extremely different environment if I was never adopted. My two family backgrounds (in terms of religion, education, political stance, income level, etc) differ greatly, but I still felt something inside that bonded me to my siblings, in particular. It's hard to explain, and I'll try to think of a better way to put it in the book, but I've never had a connection that was so strong to a stranger before.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything. Now that I'm moving back to the States, I'll have more time to really think about all my experiences in Colombia. I've got so many new relatives that I had to make up a cheat sheet just to get all the names and their relationships to me straight. As you know, I have 5 brothers and sisters who all have children, so that in itself is hard to remember. But, just last week I realized that I have 8 aunts and uncles who all have children, too...! I look forward to getting to know all of them one day.
Colombia has been an amazing adventure that I will spend a lifetime thinking about. I wouldn't change my time there for anything. I hope to go back soon because I left a big piece of myself there. My heart was heavy leaving Cartagena because I feel such a strong connection to Colombia. While there were a lot of cultural differences that were hard to get used to, I couldn't deny the feeling of being at "home" and being comfortable in my skin. The paths I followed while there just felt right. I finally followed the right path home and I can't wait to go back someday. Now I know how it feels when following my gut and how the path just opens up naturally when you're going in the right direction. I feel stronger, more confident, fufilled, beautiful, and amazing- like i've been walking on air for the past 7 months.